Is Google Right? Should Link Sellers Be Penalized?

Posted on February 24, 2011 in Google, Search Engine Optimization, SEO

There are many ways to practice SEO, and as with anything, some are good, some are bad. We all know about hidden content and keywords, keyword stuffing and other frowned upon methods of increasing search engine rank, but is Google always right?

Google has created algorithm after algorithm to prevent sites using these ‘black hat’ SEO methods from ranking highly. Recently, some sites are noticing a drop in ranking that they’ve found to be due to a change in Google’s algorithm that causes link selling to drop a site’s rank. In the past, selling links didn’t effect Google traffic at all, but it looks as though Google has deemed this practice unethical. The Stanford Daily is a good example of this. Stanford’s website sees a very healthy amount of traffic, so naturally, other sites trying to increase their ranking, want to link to it. Stanford began selling links, and although it was creating a lot of buzz, Google never cracked down on the site. Although it isn’t clear that link selling is the reason Stanford saw a page rank drop, it is clear that the drop happened suddenly.

Google has stated that some sites selling links may be penalized or dropped from its search engine all together! This has obviously created a lot of buzz and a lot of complaints. Now let’s think for a second though about the purpose of Google’s algorithm taking links into account. Google believes that people will naturally want to link to good sites that provide good content and that are interesting and informative. Following that theory, Google believes that sites with many links to them must be excellent sites and should therefore rank highly. Similarly, sites linked to from popular and prestigious sites (such as The Stanford Daily) must be excellent sites and should therefore rank highly. Of course, in a perfect world, that theory would hold true and would be enough for everyone to reach high, organic ranking, but in THIS world, purchasing links may be a practical way to speed up the process.

If you choose to purchase links, just be sure to do so with care. Purchasing links from a bad source will inevitably lead to bad results. However, it looks as though Google may penalize sites who are selling links, so one should be extremely cautious before choosing to sell.

Sara Beaudoin is the Marketing Communications Manager for SearchPro Systems